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Hydro pressured to open books

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants Manitoba Hydro to open the books on $251 million in consultations with northern indigenous communities.

That follows obtaining an audit summary suggesting $465,000 in questionable spending by a single band.

The CTF obtained a PowerPoint summary of an audit ordered by Manitoba Hydro in April 2013 after its officials became concerned a year earlier about claims into $5 million worth of dam-consultation expenses incurred by York Factory First Nation.

York Factory is one of five northern Cree communities affected by the proposed Keeyask and Conawapa hydroelectric developments and is involved in a co-owner partnership deal with Hydro with the two generating stations.

Hydro had attempted over about six months to informally resolve issues before the audit was ordered.

The audit's findings, presented to Hydro's board earlier this month, suggest mileage claims did not match amounts paid to staff, show at least $78,500 to $108,000 in overpaid airfare expenses, an attempt to recover a $250,000 advance and five other non-compliant items with an estimated value between $29,995 and $105,495.

Speaking to reporters Thursday, CTF Manitoba director Colin Craig said the audit and the irregularities it highlighted show a need for Manitoba Hydro to be more transparent.

Hydro spokesman Scott Powell said the audit more accurately shows Hydro is being diligent in the compensation it gives to the five communities and how it's spent.

"I think this proves that when we say we're being diligent in terms of reviewing claims submitted for purchases under the agreements that we have with the communities, that we are," Powell said.


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